Hey, you came back for week two! Fantastic! After a promising premiere, The Shannara Chronicles continues to be a fleet-footed feast for the eyes. Let’s get to it.
We left Wil and Amberle facing down a Fury with naught but a tiny dagger, so it’s a good thing that Allanon charges up to behead it with his magical Transformers sword. Unfortunately, the demon leaves him with a gaping wound in his side that he hides from his companions as they get on the road to Arborlon.
While traveling, Allanon lets it slip that the other Chosen were murdered. Naturally, Amberle’s horrified, leading her and Wil to doing some pretty-elf bonding. Wil admits he was terrified to face down the demon, and Amberle admits she’s afraid to return to Arborlon. “I caused this,” she says.
Before anybody can pull a Robin-Williams-in-Good Will Hunting, though, Allanon collapses. He insists the duo leave him in a Druid cave and continue to Arborlon. But Wil, the would-be healer, decides to collect mud from the Silver River; it has healing properties and could help Allanon.
En route, Wil and Amberle get to know each other. Wil says he doesn’t know why Allanon picked him as her protector, and Amberle tells him his ears turn red when he lies. So he fesses up that he’s from the Shannara bloodline. Amberle’s impressed at that royal lineage, but he’s quick to point out, “I’m no warrior, and I can guarantee you, no magic runs through these veins.”
If fact, he plans to bug out as soon as he gets Amberle to the palace while Amberle intends to bail after they heal Allanon. Oh ho, we shall see, little elves.
At the Silver River, Wil strips to dive in, and it’s nice that farm boys have access to free weights and creatine in the Four Lands. Not sure about the river’s healing properties, but it does have the ability to get Austin Butler shirtless — not that Amberle’s complaining.
But surprise, surprise, when Wil emerges from the water, there’s Eretria! Everyone’s favorite Rover has Amberle with a knife to her throat, and she’s there with the biggest Rover from her band (who’s also not skimping on the creatine). Amberle and Wil are each surprised that the other has already met Eretria. The Rovers don’t believe their warnings about demons and force them to come back to their camp — despite the fact that Wil tries to convince Eretria that there’s more to her than just her Rover instincts.
“I can’t believe that you fell for some half-baked Rover seduction,” Amberle hisses to Wil. He tries to argue that Eretria’s not his type, but Amberle points out that his ears are turning red again.
Wait, you guys. Do you hear that? Listen closely. That right there is the sound of a love triangle emerging from the earth, clawing its way to the surface in a frenzy of bitten lips, repressed sighs, and fleeting glances. Welcome to the show, love triangle. Not sure yet if we’re glad to meet you; let’s see how angsty you get.
Hey, did you forget about Allanon? He’s having a no good, very bad day, amirite? He was reunited with his long-lost love, only to have her torn apart by demons, and then he took a Fury claw to the gut, and now he’s stretched out on an uncomfortable-looking stone cot with light-up runes. The good news is he inhales the runes’ red sparks, which magically erase his wound. Guess Wil didn’t need that mud after all. And see, I blame Amberle and Wil’s predicament on the taciturn Druid. If he’d said, “Go to Arborlon; I’ll catch up with you after I heal myself with Druid magic,” then Wil wouldn’t have been mucking around in the Silver River to get them captured. But noooo, Allanon had to be all, “Leave me. Save yourselves,” and that activated Wil’s healer instincts. Communication: It’s not just for PR departments, guys.
NEXT: Wil lives up to his magical bloodline
In the Rover camp, Eretria’s adoptive father, Cephelo, insults Eretria’s intelligence, ignores Wil’s warnings about demons, and invites Wil to join his family. He claims that elves drove them from their homes, leaving the Rovers with no choice but to steal.
But he’s also hatching a plan: Eretria’s going to threaten Amberle to force Wil to unlock the Elfstones. After that, she’ll actually kill Amberle. Eretria is so not on board with this, but Cephelo says he’ll kill her if she doesn’t fall in line — the first of many times he makes that threat in this episode, by the way.
So Eretria finds Amberle, tells her Cephelo’s plan, and gives her the chance to run. But Amberle has a better idea: headbutting Eretria and holding a knife to her throat. Lots of knives to throats in this episode. We also get a glimpse of the Four Lands’ socio-political landscape when Amberle’s surprised at how much the Rovers hate the elves, and this obliviousness makes Eretria hate the elves even more.
In the center of camp, Will, who’s wearing a T-shirt hoodie that’s presumably available at Old Navy, tells Cephelo that he won’t joining the Rovers. Then Amberle drags Eretria out at knifepoint, thinking this will get Cephelo to cave. But of course, he breaks into mocking laughter, and Eretria gets the upper hand on Amberle.
It’s Wil who surrenders, and Cephelo hands him the Elfstones, telling him to make with the magic.
And then another Fury swoops down on the camp, murder-mode activated. The stones spark to life in Wil’s hand, and he stands over Amberle and Eretria with his fist to the sky. At first, nothing happens as Wil struggles to harness the power. Then light travels down his arm, his eyes glow blue, and power shoots from his fist, burning up the Fury. Good work, Halfling! He drops, unconscious and hand badly burned. Magic, price, etc.
In the wake of the demon attack, Cephelo (who I’m starting to think is maybe not a nice guy?) tries to strangle Amberle. It’s Allanon to the rescue again. He knocks Cephelo around with magic and whisks the elves to safety.
Once the dust clears in the Rover camp, Eretria tries to pack up and leave, since she delivered Wil and Amberle. But Cephelo tells her, “Elfstones equal freedom,” so Eretria’s back on the hunt.
Meanwhile, Allanon tends to an unconscious Wil and finally has a conversation with Amberle. He tells her that she and Wil share a destiny and says the Ellcrysis is happening to her, not because of her. He’s her Robin Williams!
Then Wil wakes up, only to be yelled at for not going to Arborlon. “I’m feeling fine, thanks,” Wil mutters.
And off they go, stopping when they come to a field full of dead…horses? Sheep? Llamas? Whatever, they’re mutilated, along with the farmers. Wil vomits profusely, which is the appropriate response. Then he hears something in the barn, padlocked behind a door. I feel like Martha Plimpton’s character from The Goonies: God / Farmers put that rock / lock there for a purpose, and I don’t think they should move it / Break it. Wil agrees with me, but Amberle doesn’t.
Inside is a chained, crazed person in a mask. Amberle frees him, which makes me nervous. His name is Bandon, and he refuses to say why his parents locked him up, which makes me even more nervous.
Bandon says heard his parents die but couldn’t save them. “It’s not your fault,” Amberle soothes, which hopefully means she absorbed Allanon’s words. (Of course, it’s also true; Bandon was locked in the cellar and literally couldn’t help.)
Amberle insists they take Bandon to Arborlon, where he’ll be safe, even though Allanon can’t hear Bandon’s thoughts and concludes that he’s either hiding magic or doesn’t know he has it.
NEXT: We’ve got a second elf with visions, people
And we end this week in Arborlon. Earlier in the episode, we saw Ander, the younger prince brother (who is not the worst), gloomily tell King Eventine that they both wish he (Ander) had been the one to die, rather than his brother (Amberle’s father). We’re getting little flashes of what makes Ander tick in these early episodes, which has to set him up for a bigger piece of the story later on, right?
Anyway, the druidic traveling party arrives at the palace, where Amberle must approach the Ellcrys to see if she’ll be allowed to take the seed to Safehold so the Ellcrys can be reborn. However, she can’t approach the magical tree without permission from the Elven Council because she abandoned her duties as a Chosen. Also, Uncle Ander warns her that the Council blames her for the Ellcrysis. Come on, man, we just got her over that!
Wil announces that now that Amberle’s in Arborlon, he’s off like a prom dress. Amberle’s obviously disappointed but stiff-upper-lips a goodbye to him. Allanon’s also peeved, but Wil tells him that he won’t let the Elfstones turn him into his father.
In the end, it’s Bandon who convinces Wil to stay. When Amberle touched him earlier, Bandon had a vision of her, bloody and dead, if Wil lets her go to Safehold alone. So now we have a second elf with visions. Fun! (Ha ha, no. None of these visions are fun.)
Amberle’s meeting with the grim-faced Elven Council isn’t going well. She and Allanon fill them in on the demon attacks and the Codex of Paranor’s instructions about a Chosen being the only one to save them from the demons. Prince Arion continues to insist that magic isn’t real and tries to turn the council against Amberle and the king. (Remember, he gets the throne when the king abdicates, which he’s decided to put off for now.) Arion and his man bun are the modern-Earth equivalent of a Brooklyn barista talking to you about the merits of his vegan lifestyle. Woooorst.
Then lil’ ol’ Wil Ohmsford strolls into this high-stakes meeting. Arion wants him bounced, but Allanon dramatically declares Wil to be the last son of Shannara.
“Let him speak,” the king orders.
Wil speechifies about magic and demons and the bravery of Amberle. It’s a bubbling layer of Velveeta, but darned if it doesn’t work. He and Amberle grin at each other when he’s done, and then he mutters to Allanon, “Don’t even say it.” Allanon hands him the Elfstones. “I think these belong to you.” Now errbody’s accepting their destiny up in here.
In the end, Amberle’s allowed back into the Ellcrys sanctuary, where she’ll be tested to see if she’s worthy to carry the seed. If she fails, she dies.
“Are you willing to enter the tree?” Eventine asks, and sometimes I wonder how the actors keep a straight face on set.
Then Amberle touches the Ellcrys, a door opens to reveal a bright light, she steps into it, and we cut to black.
Well, what say you, Shannarans? Are you glad you tuned in for a second week? How are you doing with all the names and places being tossed at you? Are you loving or dreading the emerging love triangle? Do you want to see Wil dive into more rivers next week? Hit the comments, and let me know!
The Brooks Nook:
Reminder: This section is for those who’ve read Terry Brooks’ novels, which the show is based on, and contains MILD SPOILERS FOR NON-READERS. Be sure to keep the comments safe.
Okay, so this week hewed a little more closely to the book, yes? We’ve got the Rover camp attack and Wil’s first, difficult use of the Elfstones. We’ve got Amberle winning over the disapproving council, although we don’t see Ander publicly take her side.
On the other hand, we’ve got more aggressive Rovers and more prominent romantic tension between Wil and Amberle. And then there’s Bandon, a wholly new characters who looks poised to play an important role in the narrative. What’s he going to add?
Gotta say, I’m not hating the changes. I found the book characters to be a little flat on the page, and the show’s doing a fantastic job bringing different colors to their personalities, even if it’s doing it with MTV-speak. It’s still sticking with the broad strokes of the overall plot; we’re just getting there in a slightly different way. Are you feeling the changes so far?